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End No Excuses Schools

January 15, 2014

Last Sunday, the NYTimes wrote an editorial praising Attorney General Eric Holder for his remark that “A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct” and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for “…jointly issuing an extensive set of guidance documents, informing school districts of the law and showing them how to identify, avoid and remedy discriminatory disciplinary policies”. To paraphrase Stephen Covey, the federal government can’t write their way out of problems they behaved their way into. Two examples of bad behavior on the part of the federal government:

  • The same government that is decrying schools for criminalizing disciplinary infractions gave full support for putting police in schools to protect children… and the “good guys with guns” have inevitably assumed control when fights occur in school and/or when students engage in the kind of horseplay that might be classified as “criminal”.
  • The same government that is decrying schools for zero tolerance programs that disproportionately suspend and expel poor children and minorities supports the public funding for “no excuses” charter schools that expel students for Mickey Mouse offenses and for charter schools that are not open to all students.
  • The same government that “…urges schools to train teachers more intensively in classroom management” gives huge grants to Teach For America that places teachers in the classroom with five weeks of training instead of the hands on internships, student teaching, and on-site coaching by professionals that undergraduate teachers typically receive.

If the administration is serious about improving public education and eliminating the effects of suspensions and expulsions, it should increase funding for mental health services and counseling, cease the public funding of “no excuses” charter schools and any charter schools that exclude students based on their previous disciplinary records, and provide more support for publicly funded institutions that train teachers. What you do is far more important than what you say….

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